ECB steps up government bonds purchases

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The European Central Bank said Monday it bought last week 2.667 billion euros (3.6 billion dollars) in eurozone government bonds, up markedly from the 1.965 billion euros it bought the previous week.

It was the highest level of purchases since early July, when weekly ECB purchases amounted to four billion euros' worth of bonds.

They typically focus on debt issued by Greece, Ireland and Portugal.

Since the ECB's controversial Securities Markets Programme was launched in May during the Greek debt crisis, the central bank has bought government bonds worth around 72 billion euros.

In the programme's first week, purchases totaled 16.5 billion euros but the amounts fell to zero in late October and early November.

The ECB is not keen to take sole responsibility for resolving the bloc's debt crisis, and German central bank governor Axel Weber has been joined by others in stressing that the bond purchasing programme it must be brought to an end at some point.

ECB president Jean-Claude Trichet regularly urges eurozone governments to "live up to their responsibilities" by getting their finances in order and reaching agreement on a permanent debt resolution mechanism.

© 2010 AFP

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